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Thursday, April 7, 2011

An Amazing Story

This is such an amazing story about a man with spina bifida who was sent home to die as a baby, and is now 78.  There is ALWAYS hope!

When Bill Whatley was born in December 1929 with spina bifida, his young parents had no idea where to turn to get help for their first-born child.

At the time, little was known about the usually fatal condition. Few survived and those who did suffered from physical and mental disabilities.

But Whatley, who has lived in Huntsville since 1965, defied the odds. He is believed to be the oldest active spina bifida survivor in the United States at 78.

Whatley's parents spent the $1,800 they had saved to buy a home on his medical expenses. They traveled by train from their home near Ozark in southern Alabama to Mobile for his first surgery at age 5. The surgeon basically sent him home to die.

"My daddy walked 10 miles (from the train station to his home), carrying me on a pillow after my surgery," said Whatley, who was head of Huntsville Aviation for 30 years.

Whatley became the oldest of nine children and started school at age 7, being classmates with his younger brother throughout school. None of his siblings, many who pulled him in a wagon to school, suffered from spina bifida.

Whatley has myelomeningocele, the most serious of the three types of spina bifida, which has no known cause or cure. He is also a colon cancer survivor and was diagnosed with diabetes earlier this year.

But it hasn't stopped the personable Whatley from enjoying life to the fullest. He has been involved in many local organizations and civic clubs, from the Chamber of Commerce to Rotary.

He never forgot the sacrifice his parents made for him when they gave up money to purchase a home.

"I bought them their first home," said Whatley. "I think they made a good investment."

He raised $3,000 to help get a spina bifida office started in the Huntsville area. His main goal is to spread the news that the birth defect is no longer a death sentence for those born with the condition.


Kira =] said...

Wow! I actually live in dothan, al. which is about 20 minutes from Ozark. And the ride from Ozark to Mobile is quite the ride.

Truly an inspiring story of God surpassing the doctors, yet again.

ainemc said...

Brilliant story :-) What people had to do in those days for their babies born with sb. I'm so glad times have changed - but there is still so much more to do. This story just reinforces the fact that babies born with sb can and do live long and good lives.